Bulletin, November 2007

Exclusively to Clients and Friends of
Advanced Practice Management

Scary Fall?

They say that Halloween evolved from the darkening days and harvest festivals when people thought the veil between the dead and the living was thinnest.

We don’t have harvest festivals in Dentistry but every fall lots of Doctors have the scary experience of lighter schedules (See the graphs.). If there are weaknesses in the fabric of the practice they will show up then. That’s when the Doctor can be motivated thus making significant changes. Then the highs will be higher and the lows not so low! Or, they can wade through and eventually things will gel again but the statistics and the practice will essentially not progress.





There is no shortage of ideas to shore up your practice. Just dust off your previous consulting memos or call! We want you to be happy and prosperous all year long!

The Dental Dow Jones:

Through September of 2007 production for our sample of mature practices is up 4.7% and collections are up 3.8% over the same period last year. Patient traffic is measured by patient flow as measured by exams is up 2.4% and new patients are up less than 1%.




We recently completed our 12th Current Dental Practices and Procedures survey. Some highlights:

Delta and Delta PPO: The percentage of offices that are outside the Delta Network (not participating with Delta Premier; the “regular” Delta) apparently peaked in 2002 and has declined since. At one point, nearly 20% of area dentists were out of the network. Now it is just 13%.

However Delta PPO (formerly Delta Preferred) participation seems to be declining somewhat from 38% in 2006 to 33% this fall.

Generally Doctors join PPOs with the hope of getting more new patients. Doctors stay for fear of losing patients. While there are many practices that do well with PPO participation and do have high volume I have seen several instances where participation in the PPO did not substantially increase new patient flow. We also have worked with offices that have left a PPO and maintained patient volume quite well. Check your write-offs. After staff salaries, your insurance discounts may be your biggest expense. You may well be able to greatly reduce write-offs and add nicely to your bottom line.

9% of survey respondents said they are planning on leaving a PPO in the coming months. If you are one of them, be sure you’re in touch with us. We can show you how to handle this so there is a minimal amount of disruption to you, your patients and even the insurance company. The majority of dentists surveyed charge at the crown prep (58%). 42% charge at the seating. We know that Delta and other insurance companies continue to ask that you charge at the seating but most of you disagree. I have not seen any practitioner get “in trouble” with Delta for doing this unless they played games at year end switching between the methods of charging.

Dentists are computerizing their treatment rooms. In our last survey, 30% of Doctors said they had terminals in all or most of their treatment rooms. It’s 43% now. Digital Radiography is up from 27% last year to 37% now. The Doctors with Digital Radiography give it good ratings (9 on a scale of 1-10).

Internet: Although most Doctors are online at home, only 72% have Internet access in the office. Websites have increased from 32% to 38%. Obviously if you have a Website and are encouraging patients to contact you via email you have to have connections in the office. Some Doctors hold off on connecting up the office because of fear of employee abuse of the Internet or getting a virus in their system.

One solution is to simply have a stand alone computer online that is not networked with your practice management system.

“Mechanized Endo” has leveled off at about 65% of practitioners. Adding Endo to the menu is one of the quickest ways for a GP to add to their services and revenues. Invisalign: 15% of the GP’s surveyed now offer Invisalign and give it pretty good ratings (7.9). Another great way to add to your services to patients. Don’t worry about your Orthodontists. They’ll still get plenty!

Consultants? 57% of the respondents are or have worked with a management consultant. I am proud to say that Advanced Practice Management serves more area dentists than all of the other firms combined and gets higher satisfaction ratings than all the top firms in our area.

Cerec 17% of the respondents said that Cerec is up a bit since last year but apparently growth here has leveled off a bit. Doctors with Cerecs give it a good rating of 8.5.

Computer Software: SoftDent, EagleSoft, Dentrix and PEB (PEB for Windows and PEB XLDent) are the leading Dental software programs in the area.

SoftDent users might feel a bit at sea since Kodak divested. Onyx has indicated that it’s going to recommit itself to supporting its clients but we haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that yet locally.

Some of you know that Debra McGrath, one of SoftDent’s former top trainers in our area, is now working with us. So if you have SoftDent, she’s available for support. It’s still good software, but the staff has to know how to use it!

We’re learning all the time:

Each month we receive data from over 200 dental offices and that’s why we can give you the latest and most accurate source of information in the local dental economy. Matt, Shelly, Debra, Shelli and I make over 700 onsite visits per year and we keep our eyes and ears open. We are always interested in what’s working best now and we’re also keeping in touch with our colleagues whose results and reputations we respect.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your business. All of us here at Advanced Practice Management appreciate it very much.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!